BY SHWETA PORWAL
The Word Veda means wisdom, knowledge, or vision, and it serves to manifest the language of the gods in human speech. Vedas are a large body of knowledge texts including elements such as poems, prayers, and formulas originating in the ancient Indian Subcontinent.
Vedas are considered the earliest literary record of Indian civilization and is the most sacred books of India having a composition of Hymns and other religious text composed between 1500 and 1000 BCE. Vedas are also known and called Sruti (What is heard) literature, distinguishing them from other religious texts, called Smrti (What is remembered).
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The canonical division of Vedas includes four Vedas Rig-Veda, the Sama-Veda, the Yajur-Veda and the Atharva Veda.
Rig-Veda: “Knowledge of the Hymns of praise”
Sama-Veda: “Knowledge of the melodies”
Yajur-Veda: “Knowledge of the sacrificial formulas”
Atharva-Veda: “Knowledge of the magical formulas”
Let’s dive deep into the topic to know more about the four Vedas.
Rig-Veda- The book of Mantras, is the oldest Indic text and is a collection of 1,028 Vedic Sanskrit Hymns, 10,600 verses collected into 10 books of Hymns and mantras used by the priests.
The Rig-Veda focuses on pleasing the principal gods Indra (War, wind, and rain), Agni (the sacrificial fire), the sun, and Varuna (the cosmic order). The books were composed by poets from different priestly groups over a period of several centuries making it the oldest.
Sama-Veda- The book of songs, is purely a collection melody consisting of 1549 stanzas. The Sama-Veda Samhita has two major parts, the first includes four melody collections (Gana), and the other part includes three verse books (Arcika). The text of Sama-Veda is completely drawn from the Rig-Veda and has no different lessons of its own which makes it a reduced version of the Rig-Veda.
Yajur-Veda- The book of Rituals, consists of prose mantras. It is a complication of ritual offering formulas that were said by a priest while an individual the ritual actions. The yajur-Veda includes 1875 verses that are built on the foundation of verses in Rig-Veda. The text of Yajur-Veda has two major groups the Black (Krishna) and the other one is the White (Shukla).
The Yajur-Veda has always been the primary source of information about sacrifices during the Vedic times and is also similar to ancient Egypt’s Book of the Dead.
Atharva-Veda- The book of Spells, is the last of Vedas and is completely different from the other three Vedas. The book includes the text belonging to the artharvan and Angirasa poets consisting of about 760 hymns, and 160 hymns commons with the Rig-Veda.
The last Veda- Atharva-Veda has the primary source of information about Vedic culture, the customs, and beliefs, the aspiration and frustrations of Vedic life. The text of the Atharva-Veda includes hymns dealing with marriage and cremation.